A game–changer for gender equality

The hybrid model

The Covid-19 pandemic prompted a major reshuffle in the way people work across the globe. As the hybrid model becomes the new norm, it holds particular significance for women in the workplace, with the potential to deliver on the promise of equality. This article explores how hybrid work is empowering women, and why it is crucial for fostering innovation, productivity and profitability in today’s business world.

Unleashing Opportunity

There’s little doubt that the newfound flexibility provided by the hybrid work model offers increased opportunity for women. Without being bound to rigid schedules or a set location, many are freed up to create a better work-life balance, and make choices that align with their priorities, needs and aspirations.

One reason why hybrid holds unique appeal for women is because they typically carry a larger load of domestic responsibilities than men, especially where children are involved. With the opportunity to cut the commute, and work remotely at least some of the time, pressure is relieved, and females are finally getting the time and space they need to say no (or yes!), to delegate effectively and to organise their lives on their own terms.

53% of women believe hybrid working has empowered them to apply for a more senior role within their organisation.

Redefining Work Dynamics

The fact is, the pandemic prompted many people, both men and women, to reassess their priorities and decide what really matters to them. Organisations that want to attract and retain top female talent have to recognise that ‘health, balance and wellness’ are now critically important to the female workforce, and for the majority, the option to work remotely is a ‘non-negotiable’.

So strong is the appeal of hybrid in fact, global trends suggest that women will walk away from employers who fail to support them in this way.

In a report released by the International Workplace Group (IWG) called ‘Empowering Women in the Hybrid Workplace’, data reveals that while women possess high levels of ambition, they are less willing these days to compromise their wellbeing in the pursuit of career advancement. In fact, nearly three-quarters of women (72%) would look for a new job if their employer was not offering the option to work hybrid.

72% of women said they would look for another role if their employer no longer offered a hybrid option.

The Importance of Retaining Female Talent

In this ‘new world of work’ companies not offering hybrid arrangements risk losing valuable personnel, in particular women, who bring qualities such as empathy and compassion, insightfulness and high emotional intelligence to the table - all skills that have become particularly sought after in today’s post-pandemic marketplace.

Forward-thinking organisations know the value of this style of interaction and leadership, which focuses on bringing out the best in individuals, nurturing potential, and empowering others to thrive.

Those same organisations also know that by providing a flexible environment where women can flourish, the flow-on effects are many. It helps minimise staff shortages, but also helps towards building a more inclusive and diverse workforce, enriching workplace culture, and in turn, unlocking new levels of innovation, productivity and profitability.

75% of women reported a better work-life balance thanks to hybrid working.

Benefits of the Hybrid Model

In addition to revealing that 72% of women would change jobs if their employer no longer offered a hybrid schedule, IWG’s survey also highlighted that 75% of women reported a better work-life balance thanks to hybrid working, 49% indicated that this model afforded them more time to pursue personal passions, while 44% highlighted its positive impact on mental wellbeing.

‘Cutting the commute’ emerged as a significant advantage, according to female workers.

Firstly there is the financial gain. Fewer commutes can mean big savings on transportation – which for women facing the gender pay gap, is a significant consideration. But then there is also the time saving. Parenting, self-care, satisfying work requirements and progressing a career are priorities that are hard to manage successfully, if you have to travel back and forth to a central office every day. Exhaustion and burnout rates are especially high among women, so gaining time here can make a crucial difference where it’s needed.

Notably, there are additional benefits to be had with couples, when both partners are working to a hybrid schedule. A new level of equality (caring and sharing) is emerging in many homes, particularly those where one partner has previously done most of the housekeeping and child minding.

88% of women believe that the flexibility offered by hybrid working serves as an equaliser in the workplace.

Supporting Equality and Growth

According to IWG’s study, an astonishing 88% of women believe that the flexibility offered by hybrid working serves as ‘an equaliser’ in the workplace. Additionally, 67% of women believe that hybrid has helped advance their career growth, and over half of the participants in the
study (53%) say it has empowered them to apply for more senior roles within their organisations.

This research is encouraging. Showing that the enhanced flexibility and freedom hybrid brings enables women to be more productive and efficient. They have more time and energy to participate in training, enhance their skills, advance their careers and increase their visibility and value in
the workplace.

Women are also finding a better balance through hybrid, between professional success and fulfilling their personal responsibilities, which means they are more inclined to stay in their jobs. This not only advances equality but also plays a vital role in the overall prosperity of the businesses they work for.

A win-win, you could say.

“While women possess high levels of ambition, they are less willing these days to compromise their wellbeing in the pursuit of career advancement”

*Findings from IWG’s Empowering Women in the Hybrid Workplace Report, released to mark International Women’s Day.